Poison Probe

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Science  13 Nov 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5955, pp. 917
DOI: 10.1126/science.326.5955.917-b

The toxic compound methylmercury often bioaccumulates in fish tissues, where it can exceed recommended maximum levels for human consumption. There is thus a need for simple screening procedures to rapidly detect methylmercury in samples of fish intended for human consumption. Climent et al. now report such a method, in which the presence of methylmercury triggers the opening of pores in a mesoporous inorganic material by liberating a tethered capping group. Upon opening, the pores release multiple dye molecules previously trapped inside, thereby amplifying the detection signal. The authors tested their method on fish samples with known methylmercury content, straightforwardly processed by acid digestion and subsequent toluene extraction. The results showed that the method yields accurate results and is selective for methylmercury even in the presence of Hg2+ and numerous other metal ions.

Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 48, 8519 (2009).

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